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A Christmas story

Dear Editor:I have a Christmas story to share with parents of young children. I teach preschool at the Early Learning Center in Aspen, and we are watching the pre-holiday frenzy affecting the children. They are a little bit wild and I think they worry about being good enough so that Santa will come.Twenty years ago, when my son, Matt Isaac, was 5, his dad and I had been singing the “You’d better not shout, you’d better not cry …” song daily and with great fervor in hopes of sparing ourselves some of Matt’s normal “misbehavior” in the weeks before Christmas.I was shopping for stocking stuffers and found something that tickled my funny bone. It was a piece of coal wrapped in a little package with a card from Santa. I bought it and put it in Matt’s stocking along with an assortment of small toys and candy. On Christmas morning, Matt was devastated and cried when he realized that Santa thought he was naughty! I felt terrible.Last night, I called Matt in California to say hello and to find out if he remembered. I had barely started telling about the kids at school worrying about being good, when he interrupted me with “the coal.” He did say that he has forgiven me, but I still wonder what I was thinking and how I could have been so insensitive.This is a stressful time of year for everyone, especially young families. There is too much work, not enough quiet time with family, and too much expectation by parents to produce a “perfect” Christmas. My (unsolicited) advice is to keep things simple and let your children know that you love and adore them, regardless of whether they are naughty or nice.Merry Christmas.Mary BallouBasalt


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